|2013/14 NBA Season|
|November 6, 2013|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass|
|Nate Wolters||PG||Kyrie Irving|
|O.J. Mayo||SG||Dion Waiters|
|Caron Butler||SF||Earl Clark|
|Ersan Ilyasova||PF||Tristan Thompson|
|Larry Sanders||C||Anderson Varejao|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|92.5 (27th)||Pace||97.4 (9th)|
|100.2 (20th)||ORtg||89.7 (30th)|
|102.7 (12th)||DRtg||93.8 (2nd)|
Cavaliers update. The Cavs come to Milwaukee as a team of dichotomy. They've won both of their home games and lost both of their road games. They're dead last in offensive efficiency but second in defensive efficiency. Fortunately for Cleveland, there's good reason to expect their offensive woes to subside, and if Mike Brown's defensive system can keep up their early success the Cavs should be in very good shape.
Kyrie Irving has yet to his stride (37% shooting, 18% threes, 61% free throws, 15.3 ppg), Dion Waiters has registered more shots than points in all four games, and first overall pick Anthony Bennett has missed all 15 of his shot attempts to date. Irving will of course get back to his all-star production levels sooner rather than later, while Waiters certainly isn't as bad as his 33% shooting line either. And even if you didn't think Bennett was a worthy #1 pick, he's still an extremely talented combo forward who has the potential to be a mismatch machine in the not-too-distant future. Andrew Bynum has also returned to actually playing basketball, though he's not surprisingly been rusty after missing all of last season. Either way, his size along with Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson could cause major issues for the Bucks up front.
Injuries, injuries, injuries. It's getting kind of old, isn't it? On Tuesday it appeared likely that the Bucks would once again be without Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour on Wednesday, while Ersan Ilyasova's bothersome ankle and Larry Sanders' thumb were threatening their availability as well. Andrew Gruman reports from practice that it appears Nate Wolters will once again start at the point:
"It doesn't look like Brandon is going to be able to go, we'll see how he is tomorrow," Bucks coach Larry Drew said "Luke does not look good for tomorrow. We're going to have to go with what we have. We'll probably go with Nate."
On the positive side, Ekpe Udoh (remember him?) has returned to practice and could be available as soon as tonight. Udoh hadn't expected to be ready before Saturday, but joined in on practice when Ilyasova and Sanders were unavailable. Unfortunately, the Bucks' continued depth challenges won't do much to help mitigate their early season rebounding struggles.
Larry drama. Among the Bucks' injury worries, Sanders seems the most likely to play after banging up his thumb on Saturday. Not that he hasn't had his share of drama over the season's first week. Celebrating the birth of his daughter on Monday was the good kind of drama, but the injury and his frustration over poor play and limited minutes are decidedly less exciting for everyone. Steve Aschburner writes at NBA.com:
"I feel like I’m capable of being in the game at the end and helping my team win, coming up with blocks and rebounds," Sanders told NBA.com before exiting the locker room swiftly. "I haven’t been able to get my rhythm out there. I understand foul trouble situations, but tonight I wasn’t in foul trouble.
"Last year I finished so many games. I feel like that’s when I lock in the most. But I haven’t been able to get in the game to finish. That carries over to the next game. When you sit the last three quarters of each game, I can’t have no carryover. And it’s hard for me. I’m still a young player. It’s only my eighth year playing basketball."
This is of course a decidedly slippery slope: you want players who want to play, particularly your (soon-to-be) highest paid player. You don't want guys who feel entitled to minutes even when they're not performing (and others are). It's a difficult balancing act and made all the more poignant by Sanders' importance to the Bucks' present and future. So while three games aren't worth pushing the panic button over, it's still worrying that he's looked nervous and pressing on the offensive end while regularly being out-muscled by more physical big men (Tyson Chandler, Jonas Valanciunas, Vitor Faverani) defensively. The latter is the more pressing issue and figures to be more easily corrected, as we already know the tremendous things he's capable of defensively. But it still needs to happen.
The offensive stuff is less clear, though even those pessimistic about Sanders' offensive potential don't expect him to shoot 25% forever. The Bucks' lack of depth at the point has no doubt hurt his ability to get easy baskets, though we also don't need to see Larry posting up 18 feet from the basket with the shot clock running down. You can't help but feel as though Larry's already feeling the pressure of the new $44 million extension he signed this summer, a new challenge for a guy who entered last season fighting for a job but without any set expectations. It's not to say he had it easy last year, but not every type of pressure is the same.
Redd retires. Though his Bucks career didn't end the way anyone wanted, Michael Redd should still be a very welcome figure when he officially announces his retirement at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night. The high-scoring lefty last played for the Bucks in the spring of 2011 before moving on to a reserve role in Phoenix the following year. But after sitting out last season he decided that it was time to move on to the next phase of his life. He finished his Bucks career with a 20 ppg average and retires as the Bucks' fourth all-time leading scorer. Welcome back Michael--and good luck.